Does your dog respond to his name?  All the time or only when he wants to?  When you call your dog’s name, the appropriate response from the dog should be to stop what he’s doing and either look at you, or respond to the command you issue with his name.  Hearing his name should be a wonderful thing to your dog.  He should anticipate good things when he hears it.

If you’ve adopted a rescue dog who doesn’t know his new name, start out by pairing his new name with an immediate treat.   Stand near him and when he looks at you, say his name, “Pooch!” in a happy voice and give him a treat.  Move around a bit and wait for him to look again, and repeat this drill.  When he’s becoming very attentive, try the opposite.  When he glances away, say his name.  When he looks at you, celebrate his success.  Offer him a jackpot of treats and lots of praise.  He will learn to respond to and love his name in no time.  Remember to keep an upbeat, happy tone when teaching your dog his name.

To elicit consistent responses from your dog and to keep him sharp, carry on the following exercise.   As you go about your day, say your dog’s name.  Be prepared with a treat.  Carry them in your pocket, and have one handy for an immediate reward for the exercise.  When your dog looks, either click or say “Good!” (or whatever your verbal marker is) and toss him a treat.  Keep this up inside the house until you get a consistent reaction.  Consistent is 80% of the time.

Once you’re satisfied with your dog’s reaction to his name, move the game outside to his own backyard.  Practice this throughout the day.  Do it as a surprise game not as a repetitive drill.  Try it next on a walk.  Change the locations until your dog reacts to his name wherever you are.  And remember to use those treats and praise a lot.  No one is motivated to work for free.

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